Robert Reich: The Problem Isn’t Outsourcing.


This excellent article’s full title is The Problem Isn’t Outsourcing. It’s that the Prosperity of Big Business Has Become Disconnected from the Well-Being of Most Americans.

The American economy has moved way beyond outsourcing abroad or even “in-sourcing.” Most big companies headquartered in America don’t send jobs overseas and don’t bring jobs here from abroad.

That’s because most are no longer really “American” companies. They’ve become global networks that design, make, buy, and sell things wherever around the world it’s most profitable for them to do so.

As an Apple executive told the New York Times, “we don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems. Our only obligation is making the best product possible.” He might have added “and showing profits big enough to continually increase our share price.”

Forget the debate over outsourcing. The real question is how to make Americans so competitive that all global companies — whether or not headquartered in the United States — will create good jobs in America.

I think the headline to the story makes an extremely important point that gets lost in the article itself. No matter how well we educate American workers or workers in any part of the world, these companies do not have an obligation to solve the problems of middle-class wages and lifestyles.

A situation where all the world’s people were highly educated and were able to be good workers at low wages would make all the corporations happy.  Well, maybe that would require Martians with good incomes to buy all the stuff that the people of Earth produce, but that is not the worry of any single company.

We all have to remember that there are interests and values that transcend the individual corporation.  In a purely capitalist economy, there is no entity whose job it is to promote these important human values.  This is one of the reasons for people to band together in the form of national and international governments to create that entity. This is the entity to promote the human values that have no assigned promoter in capitalism.

This is not to disparage capitalism for not covering this aspect of humanity.  It is only to point out that to have a whole society, we must make sure that there are entities in place to promote each of the human values that need to be promoted.

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